IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BEES 
Its Christmas!! Time for folks to come together and revel in one anothers company. Time for me to concentrate on being with my family for the festive period and to take time to review the past year and share the highlights. It has been a very full and varied year. Who knew there was so much you could do with honeybees ? 
Going into the 2018 the main thrust was to get the bees out of the winter hale and hearty. I changed my spring late winter regime. I started giving a weak syrup to stimulate the bees and feed some pollen substitute to support the brood development. It turned out to be a very timely. We had "The Beast from the East" batter the country and gave us lots of snow and very low temperature all the way into April. My bees benefited from the extra food to survive the long winter and to get the 2018 generation of bees going early. Two weeks of spring followed and summer arrived and stayed. 55 days without rain and temperature above 20°C, even into the 30's ! 
 
The spring and summer honey crops where exceptional. Which was just as well because by the second week in August the plants that had had too little rain packed up giving nectar. I started feeding to support the bees. September came with some rain and slightly cooler temperatures. The Rosebay Willowherb and Hymalayian Balasm kicked in followed by Ivy in October. That filled the hive with winter stores. The best part of the bee year was that there was no reocurrance of CBPV (Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus) It is a virulent bee killer. My actions in the autumn of 2017 paid off however the cost to me and bees was high. 
 
All this bee husbandry acted as a heart beat to the year  
 
My tentative steps into education began to take hold in 2018. I ran an edition of my Foundation course in Beekeeping almost every month throughout the year. The world has 28 more beekeepers than at the beginning of the year. Ages of the students have ranged from 14 to 72. The course is 16 hours over two days. It s really intense and the student get challenged but we all get through it with good humour. The students realise there is more to learn and I realise I still don't really know much about bees. 
 
Most students have gone on to establish apiaries of there own. Students from the 2017 courses are evolving their interests and beekeeping styles. It is really good to see. Click HERE to see the syllabus and to book for 2019  
I extended the Bees for Schools reach by having bees in Belvoirdale Primary school in Coalville. One of the teachers came on my course. A life long ambition for him to keep bees. It turned out a few teachers had had bees at their schools when they were kids. The hives are on the school grounds. They built their hive, learned about the bees life cycle, inspected the bees, harvested the honey and jarred it. End to end production, with maths, literature, crafts and STEM all under one roof. I am hoping to more on this next year. Plans are afoot.  
 
In the meantime see what Sir John Moore primary school think of their bees. Click HERE 
 
I also did sessions where I talked to Key Stage 2 kids about bees as pollinators and their life cycle. I have repeat booking for these session in 2019. Interested in Bee Farmer talks, drop me a line at info@thebeefarmer.co.uk 
 
The big event this year was the first Timber festival. Billed as "An extraordinary new camping festival exploring the transformative impact of forests. Music, art, philosophy and sustainability" It was all those things and more. I had a glass hive for folks to observe the bees. But unlike traditional observation hives which are closed, this hive was open to allow the bees to go about their business in a natural way. I created a number of bee games which the public was good enough to join in with. It was a great weekend and right on my door step. 
 
If the bees are the heart beat then these event are the milestones of my year: The Moira Canal Festival, Ashby Steam Festival, Statfold Giant Miniature Weekend, Ashby Show, and Melton Mowbray Food Festival The events where well attend, the weather was spectacular. The food fest was wet but it was October and it is indoors so no problem.  
A special mention needs to go to the Black to Green project. It was a Heritage Lottery funded project managed by The National Forest A field in the hamlet of Boothorpe was selected to be an orchard. The scheme is called the Boothorpe Orchard & Pollinator Project (BOPP). The orchard, now planted, has about 100 Heritage fruit trees, Apple, Pear, and Damson. A corner of the field was fenced off and two hives were purchased. The 1st Blackfordby Scout group had a lesson about honeybees then made up the two hives. The hives are different colours. Bees recognise colours and shapes so making the hive unique and helps the home coming bees. The reason the hives are different colours is due to the work of the community out reach officer Jo Maker. With Jo the scouts explored their landscape and came up with the colour schemes. The blue represents the sky and the rivers of the area. The yellow one represents the clay and sand that was extracted in the area.  
A number of community groups and scout groups came to visit the bees over the summer. 
 
The 1st Blackfordby scouts went on to extract and jar their honey crop.  
The year was liberally peppered with talks given to Women's Insitutes, wild life societies and other community groups. Add a splash of corporate events for the YHA and Wilson Vale , Sprinkle with honey production, sales, professional development add a healthy dose of experience days and you have a very full and busy year.  
 
If you want to know more about what I do, receive training, give a talk, have an experience day, follow me on social platform of your choice or sign up to my email list. 
 
I almost forgot two big items !! 
I became the first Brand ambassador for Ashby de la Zouch. A number of business in Ashby are now stepping forward to show their support marketing the town. Ashby is a great market town in North West Leicestershire. A busy high street, a Castle and great venues to eat and drink.  
You should come! 
I have been through the process of being cajoled into filling out the application form, selected, short listed and finalised in the best food and drink producer category in the Leicester Tourism & Hospitality Awards 2018. We had a glittering awards ceremony at the Athena in Leicester in November. 
 
I did not scoop the top prize but one of my customers did so that feels like a win. Gelato Village were a deserved winner.  
Tagged as: Misc, Review
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